French Onion Soup Recipe

A really great French onion soup is a classic recipe for a warming winter lunch with friends. Deep, rich flavour and a dash of brandy will warm you up after a frosty winter walk or cheer you on damp drizzly days. There is nothing more satisfying than the smell of the soup wafting through your house, making it feel like a welcoming French bistro. Make sure that you use a good beef stock and allow the onions to caramelize to get the maximum flavour in your onion soup. You will also need heatproof bowls for the last stage under the grill to melt the cheese into luscious, bubbling goodness.

French Onion Soup Recipe


700g / 1 ½ lbs onions thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic crushed
50g / 2oz butter
2 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon sugar
1.2 litres / 2 pints good beef stock
250ml / 1 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

To serve:

6 thick slices French bread toasted
225g / 8oz gruyere cheese

Heat the butter and oil together in a large heavy based pan. Add the sliced onions, garlic and sugar and cook over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. The onions should start to caramelize to a nutty brown colour, which is essential to the flavour of the soup. Remember it is brown you want, not black, so keep an eye on it and turn the heat down if the onions catch too much.

When the onions are nicely brown add the stock and wine. Simmer covered, over a low heat, for an hour.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want the extra warmth of brandy add this now too. You can prepare the soup to this point in advance.

When you want to serve the soup, bring it back to simmering point. Heat the grill. Grate the cheese. Put one slice of toasted French bread into each heat-proof bowl, then ladle the soup on top. Smother the toast (which will have floated to the top) with plenty of grated cheese, then put the bowls under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden. Serve immediately.

N.B. If you don’t have individual heat-proof bowls you can use one big one to go under the grill. In that case make sure that your soup bowls are warmed, as the soup should be presented piping hot with the cheese still bubbling, for the real winter feel-good effect.


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